Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Entering February...

 Happy (almost) February dear ones!

I had a tentative goal of getting a YouTube video/vlog up once a month, but I imagined that I'd also be blogging in between those projects a little bit more.  Alas, life. Today, I wanted to chat with you about romance, keeping it going and doing our part as women.  Relationships are two part circumstances, and we can only be held responsible for the part we play in them.  I searched out a few ideas in the bible since that's my source and I hope that it inspires you even if it's not always in line with the popular feminist view overall.  (I've never claimed to be that, I simply take the bible for truth and go from there.)

I had a lovely opportunity to go away with my husband for a work trip recently.  While there, (and before I was slammed with food poisoning for an entire day) I recorded my thoughts on this subject.  (I want to tell you this as a side note.  I'm not a professional YouTuber, I only do one take and I'm very firm on that, no matter how many errors or things I wish I'd said better.  I strive to be as authentic as possible here and I suppose that means you get what you get when it comes to our video chats.  I have to be honest, I love em.  They are stupid easy for this stage of life so y'all may want to subscribe via YouTube.)  (I've got a talented friend who's promised to help me with music and graphics and polishing them up a bit in the future but they will still be a one take, authentic me deal.)

You can watch my video below, or by clicking here. 



Getting kids into the act of celebrating... I found a few fun things for the upcoming holiday of love, and wanted to share them with you.  Doesn't Pinterest seem to have it all?  (Don't be fooled into thinking that's truth... but you can certainly find some great ideas and these tags are free!) You can find the free printable for these tags here.

 I also found this fun trail mix (grahams, marshmallows and pretty candies) (no recipe needed) and plan to make festive lunches for my people on V-day!
 I saw this idea and though my version isn't nearly as cute as this one I saw on Pinterest, I used what I had on hand and it will make for a sweet (get it?) breakfast on Valentine's morning.

In addition, we always do what we call a backwards dinner that evening as a family, featuring dessert FIRST!  It has been a huge hit every single time.

What do you and your family do to celebrate? 
 As I close, I wanted to share this with you all, since most of you have been here from the start.  I'm listing my entire camera, bag and equipment for sale, but I wanted to offer it here first in case someone is looking for a used one in excellent condition.  I've taken nearly every photograph on this blog with this camera and these two lenses, for years.  I began with a Canon Rebel and learned photography, then I progressed to this Canon 7D which I love.  I'm selling these so that I can purchase a smaller, lighter weight camera with better video and wifi capability for the direction I'm taking this blog, and also for travels and hiking etc, and I'll be sure to share more on that at some point. (I LOVE this JoTotes camera bag so if you end up purchasing it, please enjoy the heck out of it but beware, every woman's eyes follow this bag... so don't let it out of your sight! Ha!)  I can't say enough about this camera.  It's heavy, but it takes such gorgeous pics and I've treated it like my baby for years. 



For Sale including shipping and all items below; $1250.00
 
Jo Totes camera bag in Butterscotch, with moveable velcro dividers and strap (So amazing!)
Canon 7D body with strap and cover
Tamron zoom lens AF 28-75mm F 2.8 with lens cap, lens filter and lens hood, plus additional brand new lens hood
Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 with lens cap, lens filter and lens hood (favorite fixed lens of all time & great for faces and low light)
Charger and transfer cord
Original manual (dog-eared by me)
Various cleaning wipes and brushes, additional strap clasps/buckles
Pocket memory card wallet

If you want this, first person to email me at sashabrodeur@comcast.net will get it.  I'll invoice you, and once Paypal notifies me of payment, I'll ship it your way via UPS with tracking.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A little Video chat about the direction I'd like to take my blog in 2017

I have fallen kind of in love with the vlog world lately.  I love watching and listening to people that I enjoy, chat about the topics they want to share.  It's a connection, and I am big on those.  I'd really like to do some more throughout this year as time allows and topics pop up.  (I promise to look in a mirror and maybe comb my windblown hair (to myself- "seriously girl!") before the next one. Ha!) 

I feel like having them wrap up in under ten minutes is about right, but I'm feeling my way through this, so some may be more and others may go over. In all honestly I probably couldn't have chosen a more scatter brained day to do this but I chose not to overthink and simply gave you my real self!  

Click here to watch... (fingers crossed that I did this right!)   

XOXO, 
Sasha

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Here.


It had to be done. A stepping away for clarity's sake.  

In October, I thought this blog was done and something new would take it's place eventually.  I wasn't sure if it would be a brand new site but last week, when the renewal notice came for this site's domain, I couldn't let it go.  It was and is a part of my heart and soul. I walked this snowy path with my husband yesterday, yapping about blog possibilities for maybe the millionth time since I walked away in October, but in the end I suppose I always knew exactly what I was going to do. 

I weeded through what I want and don't want as far as what I can give, what I'll say yes to, and who I'll answer to with the whole social media bucket.  I won't be reopening my shop or public Instagram, I'll just be here. Simply here, writing occasionally and photographing life when I want to.   

Merry Christmas dear friends.  I'll see you in the New Year. 

Sasha

Friday, October 14, 2016

A couple of my favorite life hacks...

I love things that make life easier, use resources better, and generally help a girl out, so today I am sharing just a few of my favorite hacks, plus a little cuteness.  It's stormy outside, here in the Pacific Northwest and I am thoroughly enjoying the cozy indoors as I write this. 

My first hack originally came from my friend Lissa, who blogs here.  Over the last year, it has quickly become one of my very favorite and useful life hacks and I've used it repeatedly!  You know how you purchase a really great scented candle, only to burn it down and toss it out with a rim of unused wax all over the inside when it's all over? Doesn't that seem so wasteful?  The idea is: purchase a few wicks from a craft store and then when your candle is finished, pluck the remaining original wick from the bottom, put the candle into a pot of water, melt the wax back down, then pop your new wick in, let it harden, and voila, new candle!

 I love the Volcano scented candles at Anthropologie.  (I may actually be a little obsessive about these candles.) They are far and away my all time favorite scent.  But their candles are so pricey.  My husband bought me a nice big one last year, and I think it was about $25-30.  Well, I want that baby to last as long as possible and be as responsible as I can with a splurge purchase like that!  I've melted the wax down once before and used the same big candle holder with a new wick, but this morning I went for round two if you can believe that.  I still had enough leftover melted wax to fill two entirely new candle holders!

My personal tip- put a small amount of melted wax into the bottom of your vessel and let that harden around the new wick.  I use a chopstick to hold it in place.  Once the wax at the bottom is hardened, you can add the remaining melted wax to fill it.  The wick wont move on you at that point.
  Tip #2- don't move them.  Just let them come to room temp.  I've made this one expensive candle last a whole year and I still have two brand new candles out of it as of this afternoon.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving.


 
Okay next life hack. This isn't original either but I personally love it, as a busy mom of teens.  I want to feed my kids well, I want to spend minimal amount of time doing it and I want to move on to the next thing the night holds.  It's a tall order but I believe it can be done!

Boxed soups.  One evening I was rushing, I had two boxes of trader joe's butternut squash soups in the pantry.  I pulled them out and started thinking.  My boys are super into having meat.  So I knew I had to add meat somehow!  Boys! I quickly cooked a package of mild Italian sausage, drained it and added into the soup, then I doctored the rest of it with spices.  I added a handful of chopped fresh sage, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp each of cumin and tumeric.  You can add more or less to taste.  This soup was so good.  So fall-flavorful and took less than ten minutes.  I served them all bread on the side and they want it again so I consider it a win.
 I took the rest of the fresh sage and hung it upside down to dry.  I'll use that through the winter, so nothing wasted. 
 This is a general fun life hack for those dark and dreary days.  Take a battery-powered light string and drop it into any glass vessel.  Even better if it's got a self timer and can come on at the same time each day. (I haven't gotten one with a clear battery pack so you can see it at the bottom.  If you've got a great tip for hiding these please share in comments.  I went so far as to fill the bottom with sand, rip the guts out of a battery powered candle and tuck the battery pack up inside the candle.  I wasn't a huge fan of that look and I like less fuss so it's just like this for now and I'm okay with that because the lights are so fun.  The glass pumpkin is $8 at Target right now.)
 This is one of my most often used ones.  I frequently need to do a quick touch up to my kitchen cabinets or trim, because I swear I live with children who are actually little bulls in a china closet. Ha! One day, I poured a bit of paint into a mason jar, and used a rubber band to attach the tiny artist brush I often use.  It's been so handy for quick dings and scratches, and I keep it in my laundry room so the paint is always at room temp and nearby!
 And now for some pretty.  My friend Kim, showed up to bible study with a platter of these little white pumpkins.  (She hollowed them out, added some soil and succulents and they are tiny perfection!)  The whole platter was adorable and I think these would be the cutest place card holders for a fall table.  Or a long row of them could be a great centerpiece.  She said after the pumpkin rots, move the succulents into another container.  Awesome.
Finally, I just added this wintry print to my shop for purchase. (I know it's a bit early but y'all are all buying up the Christmas tree-topped vintage camper watercolor and several other Holiday prints so I can get away with adding this, right?) (wink)

Are there any fun life hacks you can't live without?  It would be so fun to read about yours in comments!  


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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Talks

It's a gray Tuesday morning over here in the Brodeur household and I've had to cancel today's plans to be home with a sick teenager.  While he's resting I decided to get a little blog post up, reflecting on the past weekend.  We experienced our first Homecoming and it was delightful.  Joe went with such a great group of good kids. From the sounds of it, they had a wonderful and safe time of dinner, dancing and a small after party at a friend's local dance studio where they had Italian sodas, snacks and more dancing while tired parents waited... Ha! 

I won't lie, it was super emotional for me which took me completely by surprise.  My baby!  A freshman... at his first school dance!  Waaaaaaaaaa!   I loved this shot.... there were two huge rocks where all our kids were arriving for photos before hand.  They were the perfect resting spot for all the corsage boxes.  Both of the rocks were covered with these boxes at the end and I thought it was adorable.

I wish I could show more photos but alas, they involved many other kids and I didn't ask any permission from parents.  Joe looked crazy handsome!  And a few musings about homecoming dances.  1) When did asking a girl take on more pressure for originality than asking a grown woman to marry you?  Seriously. (Also this could be an entire blog post but I'll refrain.) 2) The social scene is already heating up for my boy for Tolo, with these hoards of girls already feeling him out about his plans... Homecoming photos haven't even been printed yet.  Wowza.  I can't believe we're at this stage.  How did this happen?  And Junior girls too!  What?  3) Boys are super easy to prepare for a dance.  Deodorant and how to tie a tie. Boom!


 Speaking of plans. (This is where I admit my freakish nature out loud, unapologetically.) Do any of you have a notebook where you make lists (many lists) really far ahead of time so that you can keep all of life straight?  Because I do.  I jot down notes and reminders about all kinds of future events, plans, holidays, etc, and it keeps me really organized as the season goes along.  I've always been like this so it's rather normal in my mind... even if there are those who like to tease me about having my thanksgiving menu already planned out.  (You know who you are!) And yes.  Yes I do have it totally planned out.  How is that wrong? (My people gave me full license to change it up this year and I may have taken it and ran with it one night, while all alone with Pinterest and my Camille Styles entertaining book.  Just saying.)  This is the only way I never forget anything.  Otherwise... I would forget my own name. 



I've been mulling over various ideas for a thanksgiving table centerpiece ever since, and I'm going a little nuts for mixed metals right now.  I went to Goodwill last weekend hoping to find an inexpensive silver bowl and some old brass candlesticks.  I was doing a happy dance when I did find two perfect bowls and three brass candlesticks!  (I think I'll go back and hunt for three more since I have two months (I know) but even if I don't find any more with the right shapes and heights, these are good. I plan to put some gray tapers in them and though I'm not sure what flower arrangement I'll create, I'm practicing making some and enjoying them right now, as my seasonal flowers and foliage changes.

 I filled a silver bowl with wet floral foam, and then walked around my yard plucking faded plum-colored hydrangeas, unturned maple branches, dusty miller, and the last of my pink dahlias.  All together, they made something rather pretty. 

If you made fun of me in your head because of the list making... all kidding aside, it was survival for me.  Because of life circumstances I've shared in the past, I haven't been feeling it. My kids aren't used to me putting a pumpkin on the table and joking about being all decorated for fall.  (I think it concerned my daughter at one point.)  I will admit this to you with my eyes averted- I even momentarily considered not having a Christmas tree this year. I know. Just smack me please!  It seemed rather pointless at the time the thought crossed my mind because well... life details seemed way bigger than having a tree.  At least I got my act back together and realized that my kids life is being rocked alongside mine and I've got to keep some stable traditions intact for their sake, regardless how I'm feeling or not feeling because of how things are changing. Hence the notebook and drumming up of plans and ideas months in advance.  We all need a little something to cling to and cheer us on sometimes, don't we? 

(But if I ever lose that notebook we're all in trouble.)
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Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


 Just on the off chance you're like me and already thinking of your Thanksgiving table... I wanted to once again share these beautiful place mats.  They would obviously work year-round, but especially during the holidays! Click here to view them at Ever Thine Home.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Teenage style- (real teen boy bedroom makeover)

A few years ago, I was trying to convince my son that he needed to throw out half of his collected "items" and make his bedroom into a teen hangout haven. 

He resisted, so I dropped the issue. Boys can get very attached to rocks and sticks and pieces of tools... grin. Fast forward a little and he was finally ready to make some changes.  We'd been chatting about things we (aka I) wanted to do for a while.  We pondered the whole industrial pipe shelf idea but it felt like a lot of work and was more expensive that it seemed at first.  Then we talked about Ikea options, but that wasn't really my son's style.  My husband came up with the idea of lockers but we couldn't ever find any that weren't hundreds of dollars!  But then last weekend we stumbled upon a great locker set up... the right price... and so we jumped.  (I am blown away by the level of storage they offer.  I didn't think we'd have enough room for all Joe's books- from an entire bookshelf- or his personal items but he has tons of empty lockers, and room at the bottom for his actual shoes and sports equipment!)

It, of course, spiraled into an entire room refresh, as these things often do.  Some much needed sorting, weeding out and trash bag filling was accomplished and with some paint, new hardware and a lot less clutter, my son now has a room that is a reflection of his own style and personality- with maybe a few Mama tweaks and influences.  (I'd been showing him photos of Restoration Hardware teen boy rooms all year and he would always roll his eyes, ask where all their stuff was and assure me that it wasn't real.  He makes me laugh.)

I'm sorry to say that I didn't capture any before photos.  Can you just trust me when I say that as a mama who likes less clutter as opposed to more... it made me cringe and ache to get my hands on it and have my way?  Mis-matched furniture... an ugly green desk... no shelf space on the walls, just a bookcase that I hated and old, tired bedding that was in need of a refresh.  He still has a folding chair for his desk because this is real life... you can't always change everything at once but with a little creativity, a lot can be done in a weekend.  Change is hard for my son.  My daughter loves to redo things but Joe gets a bit attached to the way things are and I try to be understanding.  Ah, motherhood.  We worked together and it was a sweet little bonding time for us as I helped him and talked him through it. 

We touched up all his wall paint and I painted his desk with leftover paint from my recent coffee table refresh.  Joe chose these cool drawer pulls to finish his desk look, and I installed them.  We tossed his tired duvet cover and went with his existing cozy blankets, rather than matchy bedding and I actually liked this look way better.  It's very clean and tidy.  (Of course I'm sure it will stay just like this too.)  I sewed his Euro pillow cover from an old camp blanket that had a hole in it a couple years ago, and it worked perfectly in his room. I'm so glad I never got rid of it!

This shelf set up was so easy.  We bought four inexpensive metal brackets at Lowes and spray painted them with hammered metal spray paint.  My sweet husband installed them in studs and we had a six foot board cut in half for the shelf boards.  I stained them gray with leftover stain and loved the way they tied in with things.  The shelf materials cost under $25. 
We placed the books and items that had special meaning to Joe on his shelves and I think they turned out great!  He was a big Lego lover as a little boy and would spend hours creating things.  I love that a few of those creations have a place to be displayed as a reminder of his childhood. 



 The amazing sign above his bed is something he's had in his room for years.  Its from sweet Tara, at Between You and Me sign shop.
 Joe loves to play guitar, and we found this print on Etsy last Christmas as a present for him (I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the shop).  It's a guitar blueprint. 
 All of his clothing, hamper and dresser are in his closet and that works well since teen boy clothing should be behind closed doors. Ha! His hats are hung behind his door and a long mirror is attached to the back of his door.  I recently saw a great idea for a hamper... a metal garbage can with lid.  (He didn't need a hamper but it would sure look cool.  As for the men's room sign on his door... I have no words. He thinks it's hilarious.  I just go with it.  Boys.)
 I love using wall space as much as possible for kid rooms and these wall-mount guitar hangers are a great way to keep instruments off floors.
We recently changed our dining room lights and I had two of these metal barn lights from Lowe's leftover.  I wasn't sure what to do with them but when this makeover began, I decided to use one of them in Joe's room.  I spray painted it with more of that hammered metal paint. Joe chose an edison bulb and that's getting installed for him tonight. 

I'm so glad it turned out this well.  I won't lie, I so wanted to quit at about the half way mark but nothing great ever happens when you put things off or quit... so in light of my commitment post I shared the other day... I persevered.  Whoo!  

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Falliday traditions

Fiddler on the roof is one of my kid's favorite movies, and you'll often hear them belting out, "Tradition...." in a loud, musical voice.  Especially this time of year.  I always refer to it as the falliday season.  That's the season you get when you squish all the fall goodness right into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  It's an entire season of hosting, gathering, memory making, and it's my favorite.  (Until spring, then that's my favorite.) With only a few short years to go until my babies fly the nest, I've been especially tender over the traditions we hold dear, in the Brodeur household.  
 

The truth is, as a parent, you never know what a child is going to latch onto. I remember when my babies were small and I was desperate to create lasting, family traditions. I asked a mentor mom in my church how she cultivated them with her children, and her response stuck with me these many years later. She said, "Oh I don't know that anything I set out to make become a tradition really stuck...it was often the things we did 'because' that became a tradition over time and stuck. Like when they were toddlers and would go outside to play in the snow...I would be worried over their frozen little fingers so I'd always get mugs of hot cocoa ready.  When they came inside, I'd sit them all down at the table and put a warm mug into their little hands.  Over time, whenever it snowed they wanted cocoa because it was tradition, and that's how a lot of our family traditions developed." 

Her relaxed approach helped shaped me as a young mom in many ways, because I saw it to be true.  Those times I tried way too hard, didn't take.  The ones that effortlessly unfolded seemed to be the lasting ones. It was life giving too, because I longed for some of the same traditions I had growing up, but with my own twist. Since I do a lot of the same things my precious mama did, we have naturally developed a few similar traditions...but it sure took the pressure off having to do certain things in order to make them happen. 

When I chat with my other mom-friends, it seems that across the board, all our kids crave tradition, they just don't know what they'd call it.  What they know that they love is whatever feels stable and expected. Don't we all? Life hits us sometimes and it can make us wonder if there's anyone in charge of our own stability.  It is a lot easier to offer the kind of stability and expected traditions to my kiddos, when I've taken the time to put my heart in check first... when I've wandered close to the Savior and found my security in His presence and the promises that He goes ahead of me.

I'm not sure if you have no children, young children or grown children, but as we prepare for the falliday season, and begin pulling out trusted recipes, cozy scarves, boots, and grandmas turkey platter...  will you commit alongside me, and join in finding our expected stability at the feet of Jesus, so that we can be full of His love as we prepare those sweet traditions for our loved ones, no matter who they might be or what age they are?  Let's fill up so we can pour out and remember that no matter our circumstances and the state of our falliday season to come... He goes before us. I  especially love the encouragement from this verse-

Deuteronomy  31:8
"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."

P.S. This new moody pear print is now available in my shop!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Outdoor Space & Kurt's Gathering Basket

I wanted to yap all about my garden and yard in this post and I took the time to begin writing what I wanted to say earlier last week and then I accidentally hit publish when it wasn't even half finished (I have never done that before) and quickly deleted it because I didn't know what else to do... so now I have to rethink what I wanted to say and eventually get back to all that... or not! Darn. IT.  (If you subscribers got a half finished post... that is why. Rrrrrr!)

In spite of that.... I could not be MORE crazy excited to share this post with you today. First of all, my dear friend and coworker, Becca, is married to a fabulously talented guy who I have also become friends with and when I begged him to make me a gathering basket out of wire and wood... he agreed.

Within days he had knocked out an amazing basket and I enthusiastically proclaimed that he should henceforth open an Etsy shop and sell those bad boys!!  He actually liked the idea and went to work with an even better design and is now OPEN for your business (here.)  You need to know a few things- Kurt and Becca... you would love them.  They are young and sweet and have precious hearts and I've just flat out adopted them both.  When you buy from his brand new little shop, you are supporting two of the loveliest people you could hope to know.

That said, let's talk details.  I got my hands on one of Kurt's new baskets and they are AMAZING.  (I photographed it and he even used some of my pics for his listings!) The smaller mesh wire is perfect for keeping pea pods and such from slipping out and his finish work is fantastic.  This is a very high quality item that I would totally recommend. Plus, its just cute decor so there are a dozen ways you could use this.

Also, how cute would this be with gardening odds and ends tucked inside as a gift?!









We'll talk yard and garden again at some point... if I can keep from hitting publish mid-edit next time!! Sheesh.

If you want to join me in supporting Kurt and Becca and their new Etsy venture, you can find the shop here... happy gathering basket shopping!!
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